Biden announces new actions to curb anti-Asian violence as NYC, other cities reel from attacks
President Biden announced a string of federal actions Tuesday aimed at counteracting violence against Asian Americans as New York and other cities across the country are seeing a disturbing spike in hate-filled attacks against people of Asian descent.
The actions include a $50 million grant program for Asian American and Pacific Islander victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, according to the White House. The program will be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services and center around providing “community based, culturally specific” resources, the White House said.
HHS, the government’s largest public health agency, will also establish a task force to devise policies ensuring the administration’s COVID-19 response seeks to mitigate anti-Asian xenophobia and bias related to the pandemic, with a particular eye toward violence against women, the White House said.
“Across our nation, an outpouring of grief and outrage continues at the horrific violence and xenophobia perpetrated against Asian American communities, especially Asian American women and girls,” the White House said. “As President Biden said during his first prime time address, anti-Asian violence and xenophobia is wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.”
Inside the West Wing, the White House will reinstate the so-called Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, with an initial focus on counteracting bias and violence, officials said. Biden will soon tap a director to lead the initiative full time.
On the law enforcement side, Biden is ordering the Justice Department to launch training programs to promote reporting of hate crimes against Asian Americans on a local and state police level. The Justice Department’s civil rights division and the FBI, meantime, will partner with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association to craft policies for combating anti-Asian hate.
Taking a cue from Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland separately announced Tuesday that he’s ordering a 30-day expedited Justice Department review to ensure federal prosecutors make “the best and most effective use” of “resources to combat hate” against Asian Americans.
Tuesday’s announcement from the White House also included a vow for the FBI to provide more transparency in its data reporting on anti-Asian hate crimes. Specifically, the bureau will launch a new interactive page on its Crime Data Explorer website spotlighting reports of such crimes.
The new Biden administration efforts were unveiled one day after a 65-year-old Asian American woman was viciously stomped outside a luxury apartment building in Hell’s Kitchen.
“F— you. You don’t belong here,” the unidentified attacker shouted at the woman during the attack, according to police.
The Monday incident was the latest in a series of violent attacks against members of Asian American communities in New York City. Another apparent hate crime against an Asian American woman occurred on a subway train in Brooklyn over the weekend, with the assailant shouting slurs at the victim.
Similar disturbing attacks have rocked other cities across the country in recent months.
In a particularly gruesome example, six women of Asian descent were killed in shootings at three spas in the Atlanta area earlier this month. The slayings have not officially been labeled hate crimes, though law enforcement officials aren’t ruling out a racial angle.
New York Rep. Grace Meng, who has introduced a bill to give the Justice Department wider discretion in prosecuting coronavirus-related hate crimes, lauded Biden for unveiling new efforts to address “disgusting and unconscionable acts of anti-Asian hate and violence.”
“For over a year, the Asian American community has been screaming out for help, especially in light of the tragic mass shooting in the Atlanta-area,” the Queens-representing Democrat told the Daily News. “I look forward to working with President Biden to stop this assault on the Asian American community and keep Asian Americans safe.”
Stop AAPI Hate, a social organization tracking hate crimes, says there have been more than 3,800 reported incidents of anti-Asian violence in the U.S. since last year, a sharp uptick as compared with 2019.